Hartford House

The Home of Good Conversation, Fine Wine and Classic Horses.

Award-winning hotel and restaurant situated at Summerhill Stud on the picturesque KwaZulu-Natal Midlands Meander, South Africa.

Filtering by Tag: Elaine Boshoff

Brookdale Health Hydro - A World Class Experience

I am reluctant to admit that it’s only recently that I made a long-overdue visit to Brookdale Health Hydro. It was a birthday gift for my mother’s - and she really deserved to join the many people who, since 1992, have been escaping from daily pressures and revitalising body, mind and soul at this KwaZulu-Natal haven - a tranquil sanctuary that promotes holistic recuperation.
Jackie Cameron Head Chef

Jackie Cameron
Head Chef

Brookdale is not a spa but a 'real' hydro; having never stayed at a hydro, I learnt this very quickly - and imagine my shock and horror when I was told that even if it was a birthday celebration there was no chance of popping a bottle of bubbly - not even a gin and tonic on a Sunday afternoon! Instead we were served a cup of ginger, cinnamon and lemon infusion. If you read between the lines you’ll detect a distinct lack of enthusiasm! While sipping on our tea my mom and I reminisced on previous indulgent birthday celebrations and we, with trepidation, wondered what we'd got ourselves into.

That evening we were briefed about the day's activities and it was only then that I realised some people stayed for the three days while others opted for the six-night rejuvenating package. At that stage I was pretty relieved that we had only booked for three days because I was already wondering how I was going to manage three full coffee-free days. I started conjuring up great plans to smuggle coffee into Brookdale. It was clearly evident who the regular guests were; they were already in their robes and comfy slippers - unlike us who were still in our party frocks!

Spa treatments, yoga, pilates, sundecks, indoor swimming pool, jacuzzi, sauna, steam room, juice bar, outdoor pool, labyrinth, fully-equipped gym, private mosaic steam room and hydrotherapy baths... we were spoilt for choice. I was fast getting into this. There was a lot I hadn't tried before and my mother is always game for anything so I thought I'd better keep up with her over the next few days.

The advent of dinner saw my anxiety re-arise. What was I going to have to eat? Then I remembered my Heavenly & Healthy Foods - Brookdale's 21 Days to a Healthy Lifestyle. It's a cookbook on my bookshelf at home. The recipes and the pictures looked scrumptiously healthy and I was now keen to experience a hydro meal plan - to see whether the lettuce-leaves and carrot-sticks perception held true. Well, from my first mouthful - the most delicious, thick, farmhouse, vegetable soup - to the last breakfast, every mouthful was filled with love. Juliet Stephenson and her team are a remarkable force. Many of our top restaurants lack the quality of professionalism that you can expect at Brookdale, where you’ll find an authentic concern for everyone's wellbeing. Each meal is a  tasty explosion, yet they scream health as do the well-balanced, inspiring afternoon snacks. I loved the fresh, crispy Granny Smith apples with peanut butter - not a carrot stick or lettuce leaf in sight; only freshly-picked herbs, the freshest of fresh vegetables and top-quality, free-range KwaZulu-Natal Midlands meats. My eating patterns are true to most chefs and I realised I needed to re-look my diet. My mom and I were overwhelmed with the abundance of food. Lunch was the main meal of the day; dinner was light and I appreciated getting up from the dining room table knowing that I had eaten only 'good, fresh and healthy'. Our specific daily starch, vegetable and meat requirements had been analysed and balanced. This took dining to a completely different level.

All activities were geared to wellness and lifestyle management through diet, exercise and stress relief. The staff exceeded our expectations,

Gemma Dawn, in particular, stood out as not only someone I know from the area but as a person who was eager to share her knowledge. She conducted our aqua aerobics classes. I wish Gemma, the indoor pool and I were in closer proximity so I could do this daily. Fifteen minutes in the pool is equivalent to a 45-minutes workout on land. Now that's time management!

So impressed with the food was I that I asked Juliet's permission to showcase a few of her recipes in this column. These are just a taster to whet your appetite for a Brookdale visit where you’ll learn to cook with interesting textures and in-season ingredients. Your family won’t even question your new health kick because your meals will taste so good.

Brookdale's team supplied all the photos and some of their recipes include:

Whole-wheat scones served with avocado, pumpkin seed pesto and smoked salmon.

Baked oats with cinnamon crusted apples. I add cinnamon to as much as possible; it got me through three days of no coffee! I loved the crusted-apples suggestion. I may use it for a light-dessert option - a new take on apple crumble.

Wheat-free mixed berry, almond and polenta cake specifically for those who are gluten intolerant but ideal for all palates. I like it served in a new-age, stylish tin cup.

Ostrich moussaka stack with a lemon-herb yoghurt drizzle. Ostrich is lean and easy to digest. It is fast becoming available in our local groceries stores. I could eat yoghurt breakfast, lunch and dinner so I like the fact that it is used in many of the recipes - so much better than a lemon-butter sauce.

Roasted-vegetable cottage pie with sweet-potato mash is an interesting twist to this age-old dish. I like to add chickpeas too.

Lasagne - think vegetable and bean which can be made with corn or rice pasta for those who are gluten intolerant. I'm going through a bean phase and returned from my recent American trip with a variety of packets for my sous chef, Elaine Boshoff, and me to work with.

Recipes

Asparagus & Strawberry Salad
Baked Oats with Cinnamon Crusted Apples
Beetroot with Fresh Orange Segments & Mint
Mixed Berry & Almond Polenta Cake
Ostrich Moussaka Stack
Roasted Vegetable Cottage Pie
Vegetable & Bean Lasagne
Whole Wheat Scones

The three days went by so fast... I could hardly remember my initial apprehension and was sad to be leaving. I don't remember ever being so well rested. The treatments were the cherry on the top - they induced complete relaxation, with the therapists really listening to my personal needs. Brookdale placed me on a level which I would never have reached on my own. It's not a luxury; it's a necessity and I shall certainly return. There's no better way to kick start a healthy living plan than to spend a few days at Brookdale.

On the way home my mother bought a box of green tea; if she could do without coffee for three days she was going to kick her old bad habit. I drink mostly tea these days and have been pretty good when it comes to my eating habits - in fact I have impressed myself! Thanks

Tony and Wendy Somers-Cox as well as their team for a world-class experience. I will be back - six nights for sure and who cares about coffee, bubbles and all those terrible temptations when you can leave a place feeling rejuvenated, healthy, slimmer and ready to take on the world. The Brookdale bite has bitten.

www.brookdale.co.za

Send comments and food-related questions to jackie@hartford.co.za. I always look forward to hearing from you. For the latest on local foodie news add me as a friend on FACEBOOK, find me on Twitter - jackie_cameron and visit my website, www.jackiecameron.co.za.

Jackie Cameron
Head Chef
Hartford House
www.hartford.co.za
jackie@hartford.co.za
+27 33 263 2713

 

Simply Delicious Home Cooking

"Jackie Cameron Cooks at Home"

Jackie Cameron Head Chef

Jackie Cameron
Head Chef

Writing 'Jackie Cameron Cooks at Home' has taken me on an emotional and educational journey of discovery that started with a big bang and, once again, proved to me how important it is to 'show up'.

To précis a very long story... I had a really bad motor-car accident in 2010 and was told I needed to spend four days in hospital. I begged and pleaded with the doctor because I had committed myself to a function that afternoon which meant I could spare only four hours! The event was at The Pavilion, a shopping centre in Westville, Durban, and it was the launch of Justin Bonello's recipe book:'COOKED, Out Of The Frying Pan'. I truly looked terribly beaten up and Justin's greeting was, "Jackie, you could have just cancelled". My philosophical reply went something like this: "It's important to always show up". I think when the publisher of Justin's book saw me she knew, in a crazy sort of way, that I had something to offer the publishing house. Two years later all the conversations have been had and now 'Jackie Cameron Cooks at Home' is on the shelves.

So, a massive thank you goes to the Penguin publishing team for allowing me this platform. The supportive Hartford House management team has understood my need to explore, challenge myself and meet my long list of goals. My sous-chef, Elaine Boshoff, took a huge workload off me - without her I would never have managed. Robynne Balcombe played an intricate part in this cookbook coming together. She tirelessly cooked up every single recipe of mine - more than once - and helped me style each photograph. Olivia Schaffer has cast her journalistic eye over every culinary word I have ever written. She offers guidance, makes sense of my industry terms and sometimes has to tone down my foodie enthusiasm. Photographer Sally Chance and I have worked together for many years. We have mutual respect and understanding and always have a happy time together. I love the pictures she takes because they reflect our joy.

And this little team reflects 'girl power'!

Here I shall share three recipes from my cookbook - a little peep into what I prepare for myself at home. One day I'll compile a coffee-table cookbook of my signatures recipes but, for now, I want to share a decade of my tried-and-tested dishes in a user-friendly way.

When I crave savoury muffins I want loads of cheese, corn, biltong, and tomatoes. All those delicious ingredients ensure one mean muffin. Try it, you'll see!

I lost count when it came to debates in our household over what ingredients made the best macaroni and cheese. To enhance the dish my mother always added extra 'goodies', whereas my maternal grandmother preferred to keep things simple. 'Mothers always make it best', I would hear my dad mumble to us girls as we tried to rev up our mother. My hope is that this book inspires readers to take the time to make a proper white/cheese/mornay sauce. With a little extra care a simple dish can be made simply delicious!

Apple crumble with freshly-poached, in-season apples, raisins, loads of cinnamon and a dollop of fresh cream definitely warms my heart. It's without doubt one of my favourite home-cooked puddings.

I am already considering my next book because there are so many recipes to share. Top of the list right now are:

  • Pissaladière, a pastry base - we use homemade puff - topped with well-caramelised onions, tomatoes, anchovies and olives. It's a perfect light-lunch option when served with a green salad, and it takes me back to my French-classical training days. These roots, with happy childhood memories, are the corner stone of what I create today.
  • Citrus butternut cake combines sweet and savoury. It's a delicious little cake and, served with homemade vanilla-bean ice cream, it becomes an irresistible treat.
  • Oozing chocolate tart is, undeniably, the most delicious chocolate tart I have ever eaten - keep space for it. Seriously, you have got to be a true chocoholic to appreciate a slice of this indulgence.Please take these recipes and try them!

Please take these recipes and try them.

home cooking

Savoury Muffins
Chef's Macaroni and Cheese
Mom's Apple Crumble
Pissaladière
Butternut Cakes with Citrus Syrup
Chocolate Nemisis Tart

I urge you to go out and buy 'Jackie Cameron Cooks at Home'. It's an unbelievable deal for only R250 at any well-known bookstore, or online.

Send comments and food-related questions to jackie@hartford.co.za. I always look forward to hearing from you. For the latest on local foodie news add me as a friend on FACEBOOK, find me on Twitter - jackie_cameron and visit my website, www.jackiecameron.co.za.

Jackie Cameron
Head Chef
Hartford House
www.hartford.co.za
jackie@hartford.co.za
+27 33 263 2713

Photography courtesy of :
Karen Edward's Photography
082 441 7429
karene@bundunet.com
www.karenephotographysa.com
www.midlandsphotographers.wordpress.com

Eat Out Top Ten

Hartford House Restaurant / Sally Chance (p)

Hartford House Restaurant / Sally Chance (p)

Eat Out DSTV Food Network Restaurant Awards
25 November 2012

When we last checked the stats, there were more than 70,000 restaurants or eateries in South Africa. That was six years ago, and there are probably many more today, which makes the food business just about the most populous sector in the economy. If you look at the biggest contributors to the Gross Domestic Product, there are not that many mines, it's doubtful there are that many banks, it's unlikely there are more farmers, there certainly aren't that many car hire companies, and there are many more restaurants than there are hotels.

That means the food game is as competitive, if not more so, than any other sector of the economy, though the title of "best restaurant" is always going to be a subjective issue. Yet there are a few names and places that pop up consistently year after year, and when they do so in a number of competitions adjudicated upon by different judges, then you know that the acclaim is pretty much universal.

The point of all this is that last night in Cape Town, Hartford House once again made the nation's "Top Ten" at the Eat Out awards, the only restaurant in KZN to do so, and the only one to have made the finals in each of the past six years. Head Chef Jackie Cameron turned 30 on Saturday, which means that besides being voted South Africa's best restaurant in the Visa/House & Leisure awards in both 2010 and 2011, and Eat Out's most popular restaurant in the latter year, as a personal milestone, Jackie's been occupying the place of a finalist since she was 24, which in itself was a record.

She'll be the first to admit though, that these accolades come courtesy of a team effort, and she'll point immediately to her long-serving (and long- suffering!) assistant Elaine Boshoff, to a great back-up team in the kitchen, to a marvellously hospitable crew in the front of the house, and to an ambiance and atmosphere that belongs only to an historic property like Hartford and its award-winning gardens. We do need to acknowledge though, that our location puts Hartford at something of a disadvantage. We're ten kilometres outside a dusty little dorp in the KZN Midlands, at the forgotten end of what the civilizations to the North of us have often referred to as the darkest continent. We do not see anything like the traffic that traverses the winelands and the environs of Table Mountain, nor for that matter, the populations of the greater Johannesburg, Pretoria or Durban areas, which makes this award all the more commendable. That there are just two restaurants outside of the Western Cape in the "Top Ten", illustrates just how deep the culinary waters are in that part of the world, and equally, how good you have to be to be counted in their illustrious company.

In all of this, we need to pay our respects to those who've guided our team over the years in arriving at this day. Fundis like Victor Strugo, Anne Stevens, Eat Out's Abigail Donnelly, Derek Taylor, Anna Trapido, Paula Mackenzie and the late Lannice Snyman, among critics of the printed media, Justin Bonello of BBC Food's "Cooked In Africa", Masterchef's Pete Goffe-Wood and members of organisations such as Chaine des Rotisseurs have all been inspirations, and let's not forget the encouragement and the acclaim of our guests. Customers are the lifeblood of our business, and their appreciation of the Hartford food experience has not only nurtured the creative spirit in our kitchen, but it's reminded the team that sets the tables and carries the plates that in Africa, by contrast with many other places in the world, it remains an honour to serve.

"It has been a dazzling year of fun dining," said Eat Out editor and judge, Abigail Donnelly. "I have seen local chefs prepare astonishing, world-class food, and the top restaurants in South Africa have shown tremendous talent, continuing to push the boundaries in terms of creativity, confidence and full-on  flavour." International judge Bruce Palling was similarly impressed by the standard of cuisine on offer in this country. The UK-based food columnist, who writes for the Wall Street Journal Europe and is on the judging panel of the World's 50 Best Restaurants, praised the range and dedication of South Africa's leading chefs. "Some of the chefs would rank in my personal top twenty anywhere in the world."

Top 10 Restaurants

THE TEST KITCHEN BY LUKE DALE-ROBERTS
Cape Town - Western Cape

TASTING ROOM AT LE QUARTIER FRANCAIS
Franschhoek - Western Cape

JORDAN RESTAURANT
Stellenbosch - Western Cape

OVERTURE
Stellenbosch - Western Cape

RUST EN VREDE RESTAURANT
Stellenbosch - Western Cape

DW ELEVEN-13
Johannesburg - Gauteng

LA COLOMBE
Cape Town - Western Cape

THE GREENHOUSE
Cape Town - Western Cape

TERROIR
Stellenbosch - Western Cape

HARTFORD HOUSE
Mooi River - KwaZulu-Natal

Other Awards

Restaurant of the Year
The Test Kitchen

Chef of the Year
Margot Janse of The Tasting Room

Service Excellence Award
Rust en Vrede

The Lannice Snyman Lifetime Achievement Award brought to you by Paarl Media
Alicia Wilkinson of Silwood School of Cookery

Best Bistro
9th Avenue Bistro

Best Steakhouse
Carne SA

Best Country-style Restaurant
Fresh at Paul Cluver Wine Estate

Best Asian Restaurant
Saigon (Gardens)

Best Italian Restaurant
Café del Sol

Boschendal Style Award in association with Visi
Green House at Babylonstoren

For more information visit :
www.eatout.co.za

Jackie takes on Bacchus

Posh Kitchen Scrub and Lappie / NitWitCloths (p)

Posh Kitchen Scrub and Lappie / NitWitCloths (p)

"Wine, Intoxication, Posh Scrubs and Lappies"

Jackie Cameron Head Chef

Jackie Cameron
Head Chef

Never did I think I would say, 'no more'... 'please, no more'!

After a month of wine shows in Durban I'm wined out! The DGB, Meridian and Vinimark trade-shows meant the meeting of minds as restaurateurs made their particular wine suppliers' portfolios available for tasting. With food and wine providing my income as well as being my hobby, I made the most of chatting to the wine makers and enjoyed learning about their latest products - and of course I had to sample all that was new.

To crown an already fruitful month, Hartford House was presented a 'Diamond Award' (the highest achievable) at the Diners Club International Wine List Awards 2012 for our comprehensive 48-page wine list.

For wine lovers I suggest something a little unusual. Red-wine poached oranges with Midlands' fresh lavender is simply scrumptuous. The longer the oranges marinate the more distinct the red-wine flavor. Serve with a dollop of mascarpone or crème fraiche. It's so easy to make, yet impressive on the eye and to the taste buds.

My first position, after training, saw me for a few months heading the pastry section at Mount Grace Hotel and Spa in the Magaliesberg. Whenever I was overwhelmed with numbers I always fell back on my sanity saver. Wine jelly was the quickest and easiest dessert to add to an already groaning dessert buffet. Serve this rosé-champagne-violet-and-fruit jelly with a ball of vanilla-bean ice cream. It is the perfect finish to a hot summer's lunch.

With the erratic and unpredictable climatic conditions we are currently experiencing, I always have my favourite gluhwein recipe close at hand. Remember not to boil, only simmer the wine otherwise all the alcohol will evaporate and the effect will be... let's say disappointing.

While driving along the R103, it came as a surprise - but I suppose it shouldn't have - to see so many people out with their portable braais as snow turned the Midlands into a winter paradise. Does this only happen in South Africa? Keep my red-wine-marinated-steak recipe for next year - you won't be sorry. Or you may prefer to try it on a few friends this weekend.

Coq au vin... we can't get more French traditional than this. I am sure you too will be captivated by its olde-worlde charm.

The most important thing to remember when cooking with wine is never put any wine into the pot that you wouldn't put into your glass.

Cooking at home is fun, however, everyone needs time out so I suggest you come to Hartford House where you can enjoy some of these recipes as well as the appropriate wines from our award-winning list.

My latest find is a very posh lappie. Julia Schaffer of Vredehoek in Cape Town has started NitWitCloths, a production company that creates home-based, self-employment opportunities for women. A fresh alternative to those nasty disposable cloths, the Posh Kitchen Lappie (R70) is hand knitted using thick-and-thirsty South African cotton which has a soft texture and good 'wring' ability. The Posh Kitchen Scrub (R35) is super strong and abrasive without ever scratching. Hand knitted from sisal, it may just last forever! NitWitCloths will last up to one year and freshen up remarkably well when run through the dishwasher with your dishes. The cost is R100 for the SmartSet. Order via www.nitwitcloths.co.za or phone Julia at 083 273 8334.

Take these recipes and try them.

Glass of Red Wine

Rose Jelly with Mixed Berries and Violet Flowers
Red Wine Marinated Oranges
Gluhwein
Red Wine Marinated Beef Fillet
Coq au Vin

Send comments and food-related questions to jackie@hartford.co.za. I always look forward to hearing from you. For the latest on local foodie news add me as a friend on FACEBOOK. Find me on Twitter - jackie_cameron.

Jackie Cameron
Head Chef
Hartford House
www.hartford.co.za
jackie@hartford.co.za
+27 33 263 2713


Assisted by Elaine Boshoff for recipe development and photography.

HARTFORD HOUSE RESTAURANT FLYING SOLO IN KZN

Hartford House Restaurant / Sally Chance (p)

Hartford House Restaurant / Sally Chance (p)

EAT OUT DSTV FOOD NETWORK RESTAURANT AWARDS 2012

The nation's top twenty restaurants were named by Eat Out magazine last evening. The list recognises the best restaurants in the land, and is one of the gourmet world's most prized accolades. The Hartford restaurant is included for the 6th consecutive year in what is billed the "Oscars" of the South African food industry, and it's a wonderful tribute not only to Jackie Cameron, Elaine Boshoff and their team in the kitchen, but to the whole show. Eat Out recognises a restaurant not only for its food, but for its service, its ambiance, and the broader experience, and it's a matter of some pride that we remain the only KZN-based restaurant in the list in 2012, and of course, to have made the finals in each of the last six consecutive years.

RESTAURANT AWARDS NOMINEES

BABEL
Simondium - Western Cape

BIZERCA BISTRO
Cape Town - Western Cape

DELAIRE GRAFF ESTATE RESTAURANT
Stellenbosch - Western Cape

DW ELEVEN-13
Johannesburg - Gauteng

THE GREENHOUSE
Cape Town - Western Cape

HARTFORD HOUSE
Mooi River - KwaZulu-Natal

JORDAN RESTAURANT
Stellenbosch - Western Cape

LA COLOMBE
Cape Town - Western Cape

MAKARON
Stellenbosch - Western Cape

OVERTURE
Stellenbosch - Western Cape

PIERNEEF A LA MOTTE
Franschhoek - Western Cape

PLANET RESTAURANT AT THE MOUNT NELSON
Cape Town - Western Cape

RESTAURANT MOSAIC AT ORIENT
Pretoria - Gauteng

THE ROUNDHOUSE
Cape Town - Western Cape

RUST EN VREDE RESTAURANT
Stellenbosch - Western Cape

TASTING ROOM AT LE QUARTIER FRANCAIS
Franschhoek - Western Cape

TERROIR
Stellenbosch - Western Cape

THE TEST KITCHEN BY LUKE DALE-ROBERTS
Cape Town - Western Cape

TOKARA
Stellenbosch - Western Cape

For more information visit :
www.eatout.co.za

FABULOUS FAVOURITE HOME-COOKED MEALS

Beef Lasagne / Jackie Cameron (p)

Beef Lasagne / Jackie Cameron (p)

"While transactions build turnovers, relationships build value."

Jackie Cameron Head Chef

Jackie Cameron
Head Chef

I have been blessed with some extremely special staff over the years at Hartford House. I consider myself very lucky. Pressure of work is a great tester, and while transactions build turnovers, relationships build value. If you can stand together in adversity, you can manage anything, and cooking together is the pressure tester for character building. My kitchen team is my second family and with any family, when one is in need, everyone jumps in to help out. My kitchen team was involved in the first "Taste of Durban", at Suncoast Casino, and we were attempting to run Hartford at the same time. Desperation is the mother of most inventions with me, and here was an SOS for help from past staff members. Hence, I thought we should get them to share their favourite home-cooked meal for you to taste this month.

Kezia Duke was my Sous Chef at Hartford, second in charge, for over two years, a true perfectionist. One just has to look at her handwriting to know exactly what she is about. Last weekend we celebrated her hen's/kitchen tea, and can you believe, after working with me that long, she still wants me to be her maid-of-honour! I do feel honoured. She sent through a recipe for a quick-and-easy bacon and courgette crustless savoury tart; wonderful for its simplicity. Use any of your favourite ingredients to make it your own.

Paula Mackenzie, where do I begin? She started at Hartford as a trainee from "ICA", a cooking school in Stellenbosch. Her roles changed significantly as the years went by, with short intervals elsewhere: from trainee, to pastry chef, to sous chef to manager, and eventually, to General Manager at the tender age of 24. Her passion for all-things hotel, not only the food side but the magnificent Hartford gardens and the award-winning wine list, convinced her to hang up her chef's jacket and step over, as us chefs say, "to the dark side." Milk Tart is as South African as Nelson Mandela, and it is appropriate that Paula submitted a recipe for this national favourite, because she too, is proudly South African and I believe her forté is pastry.

Robynne Balcomb, whom I refer to as "my little one," is a past trainee whose arm I have been trying to twist to leave her new-found passion for teaching children and to join us permanently. Her roots are still very foodie, she's an absolute "natural", and she jumps at any opportunity to help out. She recently assisted me in compiling my recipe book "Jackie Cameron at Home," which Penguin Publishers will have on the book shelves early next year. I couldn't have managed without her with all the food preparations for the photo-shoots, and her wonderfully creative food styling, critical to meeting our deadlines. More recently she was my "chef-model" for the launch of my 'all-female chef range' shoot. She sent through two recipes, which I can't wait to try. The cracker biscuits with her "Mum's chicken and broccoli bake" is wonderfully savoury and her coconut and yoghurt fridge tart of condensed and coconut milks, sounds like a hit in the Cameron household.

My right-hand lady, Elaine Boshoff, present Sous chef at Hartford, made the "Taste of Durban" exhibition possible for us, as she held the fort, immaculately, as she always does, while I was trekking between Durban and Mooi River. While running Hartford's kitchen, she was prepping up stock levels and doing my daily demonstration preparations for the show. Our favourite staff or home-cooked meal is our ultra-rich lasagne, an irresistible Elaine speciality.

Here we were, a gathering of my past assistants, aged from 21-30, all in retirement as none of them are cooking professionally these days, and we had a "ripper" of a time; I just hope I can rope them in again next year. The cherry on the top was the visit of Deena Naidoo, Masterchef South Africa, and his wife Kathy, who made the special effort to come and visit us and meet my team. A superb weekend, don't miss it next year; it's one of those not-to-miss dates in the "foodie" calendar, and is bound to grow from strength-to-strength. As cherished a weekend as I can remember in my culinary adventures, time spent with lovely people, doing what we love most. The recipes they have shared with us will bring you the essence of their personalities.

Take these recipes and try them.

chef hat

Send comments and food-related questions to jackie@hartford.co.za. I always look forward to hearing from you.For the latest on local foodie news add me as a friend on FACEBOOK. Find me on Twitter - jackie_cameron.

Jackie Cameron
Head Chef
Hartford House
www.hartford.co.za
jackie@hartford.co.za
+27 33 263 2713

2010 NATIONAL RESTAURANT AWARDS

paula mackenzie and jackie cameron at the 2010 eat out awards

Paula Mackenzie and Jackie Cameron at the Eat Out Awards 2010

THE CRITICS HAVE SPOKEN

Hail Hartford, national Top Ten Restaurant again. Two months ago, this little hostelry was voted the nation's choice by the South African public in the face of competition from two "World Top Fifties". On Sunday evening Eat Out celebrated the critic's "Top Ten" at a gala function in Cape Town. David Higgs'Rust en Vredetook top spot in both the restaurant and best chef categories, while Hartford House was the only KwaZulu Natal-based restaurant counted in the top ten. Notable absentees in what is an increasingly competitive line-up, include last year's winners, Le Colombe and Mosaic as well as the quite exceptional Green House. Considering the remoteness of our location, this is a signal achievement for Jackie Cameron, her sous chef, Elaine Boshoff and their kitchen crew, but it isn't a matter alone of where we are, it's what we are. It is a victory for our social consciences, a message to the world of what's possible in what might have seemed impossible circumstances. Your patronage and encouragement has revealed a new world to a community of people who never knew life beyond Mooi River before, to our service staff, the scullery team and even our gardeners. To Paula Mackenzie who's God given talent picks the wines, and to her fellow managers Scott Morgan and Emma Stephenson.

You see Hartford is different. It is different because it is not just about the cuisine; it's the only member of the Top Ten that combines a world class restaurant with a matching accommodation establishment. It's both a cultural and a philosophical experience, where luxury is part of the journey, but it isn't the destination. A place without pretence, yet comfortable beyond imagination.